Walleye to sport special jerseys at WinterfestWritten by Tom Konecny | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s always fun to wear something special at holiday functions, and that’s exactly what the Toledo Walleye will do for the historic outdoor 10-day Winterfest event.
The Walleye created two unique jerseys for its upcoming games at Fifth Third Field.
“In April 2013 we started talking about what we wanted to do,” said Dan Royer, Walleye creative director. “We look at trends and what other teams are doing.”
Royer said the team wanted something distinctive for the first outdoor games in ECHL history.
“I really like how some of the teams wear things that represent how it used to be, how that vintage white used to be, and how some of the materials looked,” Royer said. “[Ours] was a nod to that era. It has a touch of history.”
One of Toledo’s opponents, the Kalamazoo Wings, is joining in the fun by also employing a special Winterfest-only jersey for the Dec. 27 game. Fort Wayne plans to wear its standard uniform for the Jan. 3 outdoor game.
“We wanted to be a part of it as well, because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event,” said Mike Modugno, Kalamazoo Wings director of public relations. “We’re getting excited as a staff. We were just in Toledo last weekend, so it’s tough not to take a peek when you’re driving by and see the boards and getting excited about it.”
A design specialist by trade, Royer wanted to incorporate a unique touch by giving the jersey’s letters a hand-stitched look.
The team briefly considered wearing true throwback hockey sweaters, incorporating former jerseys from Toledo’s rich hockey history, including the Mercurys, Hornets and Goaldiggers.
“The idea was there,” Royer said. “We talked about wearing different jerseys, but we’ve done that with hockey history weekends, and we’ve worn a lot of those teams and fans have enjoyed it. But we felt like it needed to be Walleye because it is such a huge event.”
Royer has designed all the Walleye jerseys since the franchise’s reincarnation in 2009.
“It is a lot of fun. It’s one of my favorite things to do,” said Royer, who works in tandem with Craig Katz, director of merchandise and licensing.
Royer said the team is already working on its next designs, some which may or may not happen.
“The one thing I’ll hint at for the Walleye, is where it looks like there’s fish gills on the side of the jersey,” Royer said. “We’ve played around with the fins on the shoulders, and it has a sharp, aggressive feel with good clean lines, but without looking too campy or corny. There’s some ideas in the hopper.”
As for the Winterfest jerseys, it is undecided if the team will wear them again, but Royer said players seem to like them and they are selling well in the Swamp Shop.
After many months spent making plans for them, it was a thrill for Royer to see his design come to life.
“I love it,” Royer said. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s one thing to see it on a screen, but when you see it on fabric and it’s something you can hold, that’s a great feeling.”